Zoning Board of Appeals appointments met with debate

Typically, appointments to local boards go without much debate when they come before the County Board of Commissioners for approval. Not so for the Fayette County Zoning Board of Appeals and a pair of three-year terms discussed at Thursday’s meeting.
The selection committee, comprised of Commissioner Steve Brown and Commissioner Charles Rousseau, recommended appointing new members John Tate and Therol Brown, who would replace longterm members Tom Mahon and Larry Blanks on the five-member board.
Mahon, who has been a member since 1983, spoke on behalf of himself and Blanks, who has been a member more than 20 years, asking that they be re-appointed to their spots.
“There’s an old saying that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” said Mahon, adding that in their combined 50-plus years of experience there had been no ethics lawsuits or lost lawsuits based on their decisions. “We see no reason it should be changed. We’ve saved the county a lot of money.”
Chairman Eric Maxwell and Commissioner Charles Oddo would side with Mahon.
“I would prefer to keep the institutional knowledge in place,” said Maxwell.
Oddo noted the importance of a stable Zoning Board of Appeals given the nature of how often the commissioners can change.
“We as commissioners come and go. It is so critical to have consistency over these various boards,” he said. “The fact is this county has succeeded as it has in part because of our zoning rules and regulations. We have been very consistent.
“I can’t in good conscience make a change at this point, when there seems to be no reason to other than we want to have fresh ideas.”
Commissioner Brown said that it is time to dip into what he called an incredibly deep pool of human capital in the county.
“I honestly think, from the federal level all the way down to the smallest city level, no one should be of the opinion that they are irreplaceable,” said Brown. “I appreciate the tenure of service but I do not support lifetime appointments. When you go over 30 years of appointments, to me that’s a lifetime appointment.”
Commissioner Randy Ognio sided with the recommendations, wondering why you would have a selection committee if you would ignore their opinion.
“I don’t know why they made the recommendations. I wasn’t in the interviews, but the Board chose two people to do the interviews and come back with recommendations. At some point you trust what the selection committee is doing,” said Ognio. “It’s hard to replace two longterm people at the same time. That may put a strain on the committee somewhat, but I think they had their reasons, so I’m going to go with the people we selected to make the recommendations.”
The recommendations of both John Tate and Therol Brown would be approved 3-2, Maxwell and Oddo voting in opposition. The Board unanimously approved re-appointing Tom Waller to the Zoning Board. He has been a member for the past three years.

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Christopher Dunn has been the sports editor for Fayette Newspapers since 2011, in addition to running Fayette Game Day magazine. He is a graduate of Fayette County schools, as well as a graduate of Georgia State University with a degree in journalism. Follow him on twitter @fayettesports.


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